Have you ever felt anxious about not knowing what the future holds?
Scratch that- I know you have. Maybe I should ask, how have you been dealing with feeling anxious about what the future holds?
A friend of mine and I recently found ourselves in this situation. We’re both in similar seasons of life, each of us recovering from the aftermath of a sin-ravaged marriage. Both of us wondering what the Lord had ahead for us in our lives, desperate to know what God was planning next. So we did what most Christian women would do in this situation– we prayed.
We prayed alone. We prayed together. We prayed via text. We prayed for answers. We prayed for reassurance. One of us may or may not have tried laying out the proverbial fleece before the Lord (see Gideon’s story in Judges for all the deets on that).
But when the answers didn’t come, we felt stuck. Frustrated. Like we were bound to mess it all up because we couldn’t hear God’s voice. And then each of us heard the same gentle word from the Lord, on the very same day–
“Daughter, I am Your Father– not a fortune teller.”
Seriously. My friend and I hadn’t been together for days, and yet each of us received this same revelation from God. Girlfriend, believe me when I tell you we were convicted. We had been going about this all wrong!
What the Bible Tells Us About Wanting to Know the Future
In the book of Acts, we learn that Jesus’s disciples had been in a similar spot, right after Jesus was resurrected and He returned to be with them. You’d think they’d be all stoked that Jesus was back with them, but quickly their minds switched to concerns over their futures:
Acts 1:6 (NLT) says “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’”
Basically, they were saying, “Thanks for raising from the dead and delivering us from our sins and all, but is it time for you to kick out the Romans and give us back our kingdom yet?”
Jesus simply replies, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know” (Acts 1:7).
When I read this story to my son recently, I asked him what Jesus was saying. In his most direct, seven-year-old way he said, “He’s saying it’s none of their beeswax.”
Out of the mouth of babes.
It’s Normal to Want to Know the Future.
While we may find ourselves frustrated or anxious that we don’t know the future, the Bible tells us that it is normal for us to be looking for it. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “[God] has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” We can see here that God Himself has planted a longing for the far off future in our hearts. But He has done so to show us the limitations of our human understanding in comparison to His unfathomable love and power, that we would know Him and trust Him, especially in the things we can’t see.
However, when we start seeking knowledge of the future over seeking knowledge of the One who holds it, that’s where things start getting wonky.
So Now What?
The very next verse in this passage of Ecclesiastes tells us exactly where to refocus our minds when the future is unclear. Ecclesiastes 3:12 says, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live” (NIV). This verse reminds us to stay in the present, in the presence, of God. It’s in Him that we are plugged into the source of unshakeable joy, a joy that energizes and empowers us to get busy doing the good things God has laid out for us to do (rather than driving ourselves mad trying to figure out what He will do while we wait).
If we go back to the scene of the post-resurrection Jesus with His worry-ridden His disciples in Acts, Jesus pretty much tells them the same thing. After telling them that the future is not theirs to worry about, He adds the most incredible promise– He says, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus tells the disciples not to worry about the future, but at the same time, He promises power in the present, to give their lives the utmost meaning and purpose. And He promises us the same abundant life!
God has plenty for us to focus our sights in on right now, to get us to the future He has planned. But if we take shortcuts, we miss the point of what He’s trying to do. And I get it– sometimes that’s hard to handle. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s beyond confusing.
We like to escape into thoughts of the future when we are in pain, because it gives us hope beyond what’s going on right now. I hear you, sis– I do it too. But we can’t spend so much time thinking of the future that we miss what God’s revealing about Himself TODAY– not to mention the power He wants to unleash in your life!
Have you found yourself living too much in the future? We all have! What is God showing you to help refocus your sights on today?